January 11, 2019 (readings)
- Friday after Epiphany
It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean." Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I do will it. Be made clean." And the leprosy left him immediately. Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but "Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them." The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I approach you today with a heart as humble as this leper’s, who can claim no beauty apart from what you can give him. My willful defects have disfigured your plan for me, and I seek from you today the power to make all my works and words clean. I hope in you and trust in your infinite mercy.
Petition: Lord, grant me an unshakeable confidence in your infinite mercy.
1. "Lord, If You Wish, You Can Make Me Clean": If God so wills... This marks a disposition of soul that says the leper wants God more than he wants his cure. By demonstrating patience and acceptance, he shows he is ready to live his cross according to God’s plan for him. Being self-absorbed and not accepting problems and defects is, in itself, an obstacle to being cured of them. Some lose patience in the fight because they want the cure more than they want the one who cures. Such cures may heal the body, but leave the soul diseased and unattractive to God. Openness to God’s time, detachment from an easy life, and total abandonment into Our Lord hands permits illness to cure the soul long before it is freed from the body. How beautiful the soul of this humble leper was in Christ’s eyes! May I let this prayer today open my heart to accept all trials of the moment with humility and love for the God who guides me.
2. "I Do Will It. Be Made Clean": The disfigurement of leprosy becomes a symbol for the soul of a sinner in need of redemption. Suffering the miserable and disfiguring effects of sin provokes man to begin the path to conversion and change. There is something of disbelief in a new life for those who still feel the sting of a grievous sin of their past. They work to draw close to God, but find it hard to believe he would ever want to be close to them. The intervention of God––definitive, eternal, absolute––moves Christ’s hand, which reaches out to touch the leper saying, “I do will it!” From his flesh to his soul––God’s will to forgive and heal surpasses our human comprehension! When we stop measuring our failures from wounded self-love and accept with living faith the decisive will of the redemptive God, we will find ourselves fully immersed in the life of the new man in Christ, dead to sin and dead to the world.
3. Then He Ordered Him Not to Tell Anyone: Our Lord imposes silence. Not all that is known needs to be said, and prudence is demanded from a disciple of Christ. How often do we slow down God’s work by speaking too much, manifesting too much of our knowledge for vanity’s sake? Christ is secure in himself because he lives his mission face-to-face with his Father, and the time and place of his formal manifestation to the Jews will come at his bidding. Discretion, as a virtue, is a self-giving work, not in the least self-serving. We speak to maximize the good we wish to do for others. Our Lord’s discretion proves such a posture. When will his identity be formally declared? “When I am raised up, then I will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). Only in his passion, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, will he fully show his hand. May I communicate my experience of Christ, my knowledge of him, with the humility, charity, and restraint that prudence imposes, so that I may maximize the effect of Christ’s truth in the world.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I see your hand moving from the leper to my soul, showing its power to transform. No sin should ever break my fighting spirit; no longtime defect should ever weaken my hope in victory. Your hand but moves and all is cured, forgiven, and redeemed. Today I anchor my program of holiness with confidence in your grace and unconditional love.
Resolution: I will entrust someone I know to be living a bad life to the power of Our Lord’s mercy.
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